Schaefer on stump backing Glendening

October 19, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

William Donald Schaefer is neutral no more.

Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey has pushed Maryland's governor into the camp of Democrat Parris N. Glendening, whether Mr. Glendening wants him there or not.

"Glendening has never asked me to support him. I understand that. I do understand that," Mr. Schaefer said yesterday in an interview with The Sun.

"I just want to back the candidate that, to me, is realistic, that can do what he says without destroying" the state's biggest agencies, Mr. Schaefer said.

After backing losers in the Democratic and Republican primaries, Mr. Schaefer faced the prospect of watching two candidates vie to succeed him, neither of whom he much liked.

But the more he thought about the race, the more he drifted into the Glendening camp.

In recent weeks, at stops all across Maryland, the 72-year-old governor has been delivering a standard stump speech suggesting that the policies Mrs. Sauerbrey advocates -- particularly her proposed 24 percent income tax cut -- would dismantle a style of government he has spent his long career building.

In public, he never mentions her or Mr. Glendening by name. He offers no endorsement of the Democratic candidate, saying none has been asked for and that none will be forthcoming.

He views his quiet campaign as an independent educational endeavor aimed at trying to instruct the voters about the choices before them.

"I don't convert those who have made up their minds that they're for somebody," the governor said. "I'm just helping people to really make a decision, because I honestly believe they have to sit down and think."

Everybody wants to cut taxes, Mr. Schaefer said, but "at what cost?"

At each appearance, Mr. Schaefer said, he brings along "props" to prove that Maryland is not going down the tubes, as some of this year's campaign rhetoric would have voters believe.

He starts with a new book called "The Rating Guide to Life in America's Fifty States," in which Maryland is one of 10 states given an A rating and which says the "bottom line" for Maryland is that the state "offers the best quality of life in the mid-Atlantic portion of the East."

Then he goes through a series of reports from New York bond rating houses, which say Maryland retains its best-possible triple-A bond rating, in part because the state's financial matters were handled prudently during the recent recession.

He reads from another report that ranks Maryland 44th in the ratio of government employees to citizens, which he says is proof that the bureaucracy is not bloated.

He pulls out a tally of about $13 billion in capital projects built during his eight-year tenure as governor -- projects, he contends, that no one objects to now.

All that, the governor clearly worries, could come tumbling down revenues are cut by $2 billion over four years, as Mrs. Sauerbrey says she intends to do to pay for her tax cuts.

The governor said he is worried that aid to education will suffer: pre-kindergarten programs, mass transit funding, housing. Health care programs, the port and airport. Even the state's ability to house and care for prison inmates.

Mr. Schaefer said he has not directed or asked any of his Cabinet secretaries, staff members or friends to support Mr. Glendening but that many of them are doing so because they realize what will happen if Mrs. Sauerbrey wins.

For example, Jody Albright, who heads the governor's office on arts and culture, is soliciting contributions for a Glendening fund-raiser at the Baltimore Convention Center tomorrow night.

Charles L. Benton Jr., Mr. Schaefer's budget secretary, wrote out in longhand his estimate of the fiscal impact on the state of Mrs. Sauerbrey's policies and hand-delivered the note to Mr. Glendening's home.

Others, though not all, on the governor's staff say they, too, are pitching in, providing government data or other advice to the Glendening campaign when asked.

As House minority leader, Mrs. Sauerbrey has been a thorn in Mr. Schaefer's side for years, attacking his programs and policies and characterizing him as a big spender who favors high taxes.

Mr. Glendening and Mr. Schaefer are much more alike in terms of their policies, but in personality they are opposites.

The two had a parting of the ways a couple of years ago, when Mr. Glendening sharply criticized Mr. Schaefer for deep cuts in local aid programs that the governor made to balance his budget during the recession.

Mr. Schaefer said he has talked with Mr. Glendening twice by telephone since the primary but that they have not met face to face.

"People come up to me and say, 'I don't like either one of them.' And I say, 'Well, someone must win,' " Mr. Schaefer said. "I say, 'You've got to make a decision. It isn't whether you like both of them. One will be governor.' "

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